Masha’Allah, I’ve been nominated for a Brass Crescent Award for Best Female Blogger.

Also, my most popular post, Only Women Bleed: menstruation and prayer in Islam was nominated under the Best Post or Series category.

I’m so very excited and if you agree with these humbling and mind-blowing nominations, then please go out and vote for me!

The Brass Crescent Awards is an annual awards ceremony to honour the best writers and thinkers of the emerging Muslim blogosphere. Nominations are taken from blog readers, who then vote for the winners.

Thank you to everyone who sent in a nomination. I can’t thank you and all of my wonderful readers enough for your support over the past 18 months. Half of what makes wood turtle a brilliant place is all of the thought-provoking conversations we have — and I’ve learned so much and am amazed at how much I’ve grown as a Muslim, mom and person from engaging with all of you.

There are some truly awesome nominees this year. You must absolutely check out (and if you’re inspired, vote for):

Thank you again everyone!

They are armed with a handful of obscure Hadith and Qur’anic verses. They are loud and pushy. They speak with authority. They rain down judgment. And they are sincere with their advice, even if they’re power tripping.

Every mosque administration has an unofficial volunteer on board, policing the congregation, offering suggestions for ultra-pious living and worship, announcing the “correct” way to do just about everything.

Often times this secret police is an unwanted hazard. As Muslims, we are enjoined by God to think critically, to question our spiritual leaders and to right wrongs when we see them. This occasionally invites a special breed of person to walk into a congregation and start ordering people about. While they are truly sincere about the knowledge and opinions they spread, they unfortunately come across as being pushy, opinionated, no fun, nay-saying Grinches.

My favourite example is the prayer police. This brand of secret police will literally march up and down the prayer lines during the prayer, to correct perceived wrongs (never mind that their own prayers are delayed… correcting others is a higher duty to God for this SS). No matter the location, the prayer police will interrupt your prayer by telling you that your clothes are wrong, wear a skirt over your jeans, your hands are in the wrong placement, your hijab must cover your chin, wear socks, you must stand foot-to-foot with the people next to you, your objections are wrong, you are an affront to how Islam should be practiced and that any violation will result in your prayer being invalid.

Woah. Heavy.

I normally don’t get involved with the secret police. It’s just not worth my time to discuss how I worship with someone who will refuse to hear my points of discussion. Years ago, I would enter into heated debates and stand my ground.  But after realizing that the police are judge, jury and executioner, and that no amount of theological debate will change their mind (especially for a convert who “couldn’t possibly know all of the subtle, nit-picky rules of worship” despite her masters degree in Islamic law and history), I decided to simply acquiesce.

Now when offered correction, I’ll just say thank you and smile. That seems to work. The police will feel sated that their correction has been accepted (whether or not it actually has) and they’ll move on to the next victim.

Except for this past ‘Eid.

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[Read part one of the Hijab 5.0 Series]

I’m just going to come right out and say it: Sex workers wear the burqa. Drug users wear the veil. Child abusers wear the hijab. This piece of cloth is not THE sign of piety. There are vast amounts of women who do NOT wear it, and adhere to Islam with an enviable amount of piety, dedication and pure faith. And who unfortunately, are looked down upon for not wearing the hijab, receive fewer marriage proposals, and who are hijacked by the Media as being the “right kind of Muslim” (ie, not a terrorist or extremist)

Don’t get me wrong. I love my hijab. I love the community it affords me — how great is it that strangers greet me, or ask for directions or welcome me into their home because I’m an identifiable Muslim. In its simplicity as being a piece of cloth is also a multitude of wonderful experiences for women: it provides strength, God-consciousness, self-esteem, the ability to negotiate male-centric spheres without issue, and more. I just think that the hijab gets a lot of bad press and a lot of apologetics. It becomes a problem and an issue for women because it is reduced to being only a sign of piety. It becomes a problem because it is seen as only a dress code for women – when in fact, it is SUPPOSED to be more of a mental attitude practiced by both men and women.
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Nursing cammy. Check.
Long sleeve undershirt. Check.
Fashion neck scarf. Check.
Patterned top. Check.
Patterned sling. Check.
Dressed baby. Check.
Nursing cover. Check.
Hijab… Damn.

Trying to coordinate your hijab with your clothes is one thing. Doing it so that you’re nursing accessible, and still able to match the baby and carrier without looking like a circus freak is another.

This summer wearing hijab has been particularly challenging for me. Not only has it been the hottest weather on record, but I have to take baby and public nursing into consideration. Wearing hijab in the traditional form (tied under the chin), with perhaps abaya-styled clothing just doesn’t work when you have to control a curious, unruly infant, undress yourself, position the baby, latch the baby, adjust the nursing cover, and have a face full of hijab/fingers/feet/cover/shirt without going mental and causing such a scene that bystanders gape in horror at what that Muslim woman is doing to that poor child. (more…)